Geared Up and Ready to Go: Electrical Systems Trade Students Prep for National Competition

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In Rome, Georgia, students at Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) have been preparing for something big — the SkillsUSA national competition in Atlanta! With six months of coursework preparing them for written tests and timed evaluations, the students get a taste of practical job work, networking, and spending the day getting set up for future success upon graduation. 

GNTC: More than a school 

Georgia Northwestern Technical College is a school bursting at the seams with talented students across all its programs. Recently, the school hosted a SkillsUSA event on campus, giving students in the electrical systems technology program the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned over the course of six months for a chance to compete at the National Leadership & Skills Conference (NLSC) and network for future opportunities.

Scott Carter has been the program director of the GNTC Electrical Systems Technology program for nearly 15 years. Prior to teaching, he was an electrical contractor in the area and knows the importance of SkillsUSA events. 

“SkillsUSA gives my students an opportunity to put their knowledge to the test and potentially qualify to go to the National Leadership & Skills Conference (NLSC),” explained Carter. “You’re only allowed to have one student compete in each section, but I have as many as six to eight that enter each year.” 

Calling on colleagues and friends

On the day of the SkillsUSA event, Carter decided to call upon an old friend and colleague to join in on the fun. While Carter was a contractor, the relationships he formed during that time have carried over into his teaching tenure. Carter formed a relationship with electrical wholesale distributor, City Electric Supply (CES), and the branch manager, David Combs. 

“I was actually a customer at the CES Rome location before I started teaching,” said Carter. “But that relationship has continued over the years, and now my students go to the location for their starter kits, tools, and anything else they need for our program. A lot of our other instructors know David, and he always helps make sure my students are taken care of with their tools.”

Now, Combs and Carter have a working relationship that runs like a well-oiled machine that prepares students for job opportunities while completing coursework for things like networking and the SkillsUSA competition. This year, Combs even had the special opportunity to sit on the judging panel. 

“The students competing have only been in the program for six months. Everything they had to execute is still fresh in their minds, and the event is a great opportunity to prep them for future jobs and competitions,” explained Combs. 

Testing, networking, and presentations, oh my! 

The events of the day also allowed the students to talk with industry professionals. 

“Coming out to the SkillsUSA event, Scott introduced me to his students. It’s great to put the CES name out there so these kids know where to go for future job opportunities and connect them with our customers who also might be looking to hire people,” said Combs. 

This year, Carter had students competing in the Telecommunications Cabling and Internet of Things (IoT) Smart Home portions of the event. Other students gave timed presentations explaining how certain systems work. The event also requires the students to complete proctored developmental tests as well. 

As the students move on to prepare for the National Leadership & Skills Conference (NLSC) or graduate and join the workforce, Combs and CES want to continue to help the students every step of the way. Combs urges the students to listen to Carter’s advice and mentorship. 

Partnerships continue to pave the way

“SkillsUSA is a partnership between our teachers and the industry working together to ensure successful opportunities for our students. Scott Carter is one of our exemplary SkillsUSA advisors committed to providing his students every opportunity to succeed. Industry partnerships like the one with City Electric Supply are critical to allowing our students the chance to showcase their skills to potential employers,” said Tjazha Mazhani, student affairs manager of Technical College System of Georgia and state director for SkillsUSA Georgia. “We look forward to having Internet of Things (IoT) Smart Home Gold Medalist Jose Leal and Telecommunications Cabling Gold Medalist Jack Showalter represent Georgia at the national competition in June.”

“The electrical industry is always adapting and changing, so there’s always something to learn. For this new generation, there are so many discussions to have as the industry moves forward,” said Carter. “I hope my students learn as much as they can in my classroom and take this time to decide how they want to pursue their career when they graduate.”

“Take what Scottie teaches and tells you to heart — he’s walked in your shoes and has produced so much success in the industry. You’re coming out of his program with a huge advantage to set yourself up for the future,” said Combs.

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